It’s preseason game number two for the Jaguars in Minnesota after Jacksonville concluded practicing for two days with the Vikings at their facilities.
We will likely see starters on both sides for both teams play through much of the first half of the contest.
With that in mind, here are three things we’ll be watching out for Saturday afternoon:
Jaguars running game
It’s no secret that the foundation of the Jags offense is based around the ability of the backs, specifically Leonard Fournette, to get something going on the ground. This is key for the play action pass game that QB Blake Bortles succeeds the best off of, as the game where’s on.
Now, it would not be surprising if Fournette only sees a series or two. After all, he’s way to valuable to risk injury in meaningless August games. Fournette did carry it eight times for 24 yards last week against the Saints.
However, back up running back T.J. Yeldon should see some significant time in this one. Yeldon played well, as a stand-in for Fournette a couple of times a year ago. However, he’s never really lived up to his second round draft status. He carried five times last Thursday night.
Backups Corey Grant and Tim Cook will also see some action, as the game continues, especially in the second half.
Pressure on Vikings QB Kirk Cousins
Minnesota broke the bank giving Cousins a massive three year free agent contract, completely guaranteed, at over $80 million. Those staggering numbers mean that the Vikings intend to have Cousins sling the ball, a bunch, throughout 2018.
Cousins led a crisp opening drive in Denver (above) in his debut last Saturday night
However, on Saturday, he’s facing one of the top pass rushing teams in the NFL in the Jaguars.
Granted the week got off to a rocky start with defensive line mates Dante Fowler and Yannick Ngakoue scuffling at the end of Sunday’s practice. Fowler, and defensive back Jalen Ramsey were both suspended for the rest of the week and left home for their actions.
So, now will the Jags D be able to refocus and see players like Calais Campbell, Ngakoue, Lerentee McCray and Marcel Dareus be able to solidify things along the defensive line? Also, it’s unclear if rookie first round pick DT Taven Bryan will suit up in this one. He was with the team going through part of the workouts in Minnesota, but it’s questionable as to his status.
Handle the environment
Unlike last week at home, the Jaguars are playing in the domed U.S. Bank Stadium and there is massive support and optimism for the Vikes in 2018.
Preseason or not, the loud crowd will make it hard to hear for Bortles and the offense early.
Will the Jags keep composure and mental errors to a minimum?
Will the inability to verbally communicate at times on the field rattle them?
We’re about to find out.
Report- Jaguars to hire former Giants coach McAdoo as QB coach
The Jaguars are trying to fix things offensively and especially, at the quarterback position. And, to that end, they have apparently settled on another hire, involving another former NFL head coach to lead their QB room.
ESPN Giants reporter Jordan Raanan reported Tuesday night the Jacksonville is hiring former New York Giants head coach, Ben McAdoo, to be their quarterback coach:
Ben McAdoo is being hired as the Jaguars quarterbacks coach, per source. The former Giants coach is back in after two years out of the NFL. McAdoo has worked well with Aaron Rodgers and Eli Manning in his previous stints.
— Jordan Raanan (@JordanRaanan) February 12, 2020
McAdoo had been under consideration by head coach, Doug Marrone, for the offensive coordinator vacancy that occurred when the team dismissed John DeFilippo after just one season.
Eventually, Marrone decided upon another former NFC East coach, Jay Gruden, from the Redskins, as the offensive coordinator hire. Gruden, the younger brother of Jon Gruden, is known as an innovator in the passing game.
However, the Jags, including GM Dave Caldwell, were obviously impressed with Macado’s previous work with the Giants and Eli Manning. McAdoo began as an offensive coordinator in New York in 2014 – 15. He was then given the head coaching job, basically at the uriging of the two-time Super Bowl champion QB Manning to take over in 2016.
The Giants finished 11 – 5 McAdoo’s first year as the head coach and made the playoffs. However, the relationship with Eli Manning quickly soured and the team fell apart going 2 – 10 in its first 12 games with McAdoo actually benching Manning late in the 2017 season. McAdoo was fired the week after that benching and has been out of the NFL the last two seasons.
McAdoo will replace QB coach Scott Milanovich, who took over as head coach of the CFL Edmonton Eskimos for later this summer.
The Jaguars still have to resolve their quarterback situation, as they have high price free agent signing Nick Foles, who did not perform well in his first season in Jacksonville. And then, they have fan favorite rookie 6th round pick Gardner Minshew, who did play well at times in relief of the injured Foles and when Marrone benched Foles for the final four games of the year.
Jaguars president Lamping continued to defend two London games
With a fan base that is unsure whether or not Jaguars owner Shad Khan really wants to move half his team’s schedule, if not the team entirely to London, team president Mark Lamping took to the national radio airwaves Thursday morning trying to defend this week’s announcement that they will be playing a second home game in the U.K. this fall.
Lamping was a guest on “Sirius XM NFL Radio” morning show with co-host Bob Papa and Charlie Weis and tried to make clear that playing a second home game in London starting this year, is in the best interest of keeping pro football in North Florida:
— SiriusXM NFL Radio (@SiriusXMNFL) February 6, 2020
Lamping told the hosts that Khan is “taking all the actions he believes are necessary to ensure the future of the NFL in Northeast Florida,” during the conversation. He went on to discuss Khan’s commitment to land development around TIAA Bank Field and how playing this second home game in London will be able to help with revenue.
Still, it’s totally understandable that Jaguars fans who hear those comments and say, “your words are empty and your actions of moving a second game to London’s Wembley Stadium mean everything.”
And, they would not be wrong to say or think that.
A franchise wanting to stay committed and strong in the market/region where they are, isn’t looking to take 1/4 of the regular season home schedule and play games five time zones away.
The point Lamping was trying to make is the same that Khan did earlier in the week: that the Jaguars make easily $500,00 and maybe north of $1 million more money by selling their home games to the NFL to put on abroad vs. playing in a half empty stadium in Jacksonville,.
The real bottom line with respect to attendance/revenue is: the Jaguars have only had one winning season in eight years under Khan’s ownership. In fact, they’ve lost at least 10 games (including the last two years) in those 7 other seasons, and the losing has caused fan apathy, which therefore results in a lack of revenue.
And, most Jaguar fans were unhappy, or just met with that apathy, Khan’s decision last December to not go ahead and wipe the slate clean from coach Doug Marrone and GM Dave Caldwell, who were part of those last two years. This especially, after firing VP of football,, Tom Coughlin, late in the 2019 season.
The belief from many fans, who post online or call Jacksonville sports radio, etc., is that there’s going to be more of the same of losing in 2020. And then, the owner threatening to move more games every year to London, while still being based in Jacksonville.
For now, the NFL is willing to allow Khan to play more games in the U.K., while being based in Jacksonville.
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